We Glory in Knowing Him (Jeremiah 9:23–24)

“The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11). But the glory of the Lord was shrouded in a cloud, and Moses wanted to see Him directly. So he asked, “Please, show me Your glory” (Ex. 33:18). But God knew Moses couldn’t handle it: “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live” (Ex. 33:20). So God did the next best thing. He positioned Moses in a crack in a rock, put His hand over the opening to protect him as He passed by, then He removed His hand and let Moses see his back. As He passed, God proclaimed:

The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation. (Ex. 34:6–7)

So grand and glorious was what God revealed to Moses about His person that “Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped” (Ex. 34:8). What he saw of God was such a great blessing that nothing else mattered to him except that he might secure His presence forever. So he asked, “If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance” (Ex. 34:9). God answered Moses’ request by making a covenant with the children of Israel, a covenant they would not keep.

The oath of the covenant began with the words:

Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. Observe what I command you this day. (Ex. 34:10–11)

After sixteen verses of instruction, the covenant ended with these words: “Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel” (Ex. 34:27). Then God wrote the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments, on a second set of stone tablets (for Moses had destroyed the first). Then Moses went down the mountain to tell the children of Israel.

When Moses arrived, he did not realize that the skin of his face was shining. But when Aaron and the children of Israel saw it, they were afraid, and they would not come near him. But he called them to himself anyway and “gave them as commandments all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai” (Ex. 34:32). Afterward, he put a veil over his face to hide its glow from the people.

When we read about these events in the New Testament (2 Cor. 3:1 forward), we see that the veil on Moses’ face was symbolic of the spiritual blindness of Israel in particular and of mankind in general (2 Cor. 3:14–15; 4:3–4). People do not see, nor do they want to see, the glory of the Lord. The veil that lies on their hearts and that shields them from God is the work of the devil. His purpose is to keep them from seeing and understanding and believing the good news that in Christ their sins may be forgiven (2 Cor. 4:4). He blocks their understanding so that they may perish in hell with him forever (2 Cor. 4:3).

But in spite of the fact that the devil puts a veil on the hearts of men to keep them from seeing the glory of the Lord, the devil has no power to keep it there. As Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20). The devil acts upon the lost with unrighteous deception to convince them to not open the door of their hearts to Christ. But if they hear Jesus knocking, and they want to let Him in, the devil can’t stop them.

As a result, when a person turns to Christ, the veil of ignorance is taken away (2 Cor. 3:16). In this age, the age in which God takes up residence in the hearts of men, when a person turns to Christ, then God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, comes to live in him, and He indelibly writes Himself onto the fleshly tablets of his heart (2 Cor. 3:3).

Then, with Jesus in his heart, the veil is lifted, and he is no longer blind to the glory of God, but he sees it up close and personally, shining forth from the depths of his own heart (2 Cor. 3:18). And the effect is that he comes to know God personally and intimately in ways that he could not have imagined before. As it is written, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).

This is why what we see of God’s glory today is better than what Moses saw in his day (2 Cor. 3:10). Moses saw as much of God as a man can see and live. And what he saw caused him to glow like a human glow stick. But what He saw of God, though it was glorious, was only a one-time event, and its effect faded over time (1 Cor. 3:7).

But what we see of God does not fade, because our observance of God is not a one-time event. Day after day, our minds are renewed as we behold afresh the glory of the Lord as He shines within our hearts (2 Cor. 4:16). The daily refreshing of our minds causes us to know Him better and better as we grow up spiritually. Our interaction with Him increases our sense of liberty, grace, hope, and peace.

As Moses found to be true, we find that knowing God is the greatest treasure that man has ever known. And knowing Him makes us bow our heads in reverence and worship of Him. He is glorious, and magnificent, and beautiful, and lovely, and pure, and just, and gracious, and loving, and kind, and merciful, and majestic. In a word, God is awesome.

If there is anything in our lives worthy to whoop and holler about, then certainly the fact that we know God is the most worthy. God likes it when we revel in the fact that we know Him, and He has given us permission to whoop and holler about it:

Thus says the Lord:

“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness,
judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,” says the Lord. (Jer. 9:23–24)

Jesus said, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matt. 13:45–46). While it may be argued that God is the merchant who paid the ultimate price to secure our salvation, it is not difficult to relate to the sentiment of the merchant concerning what we have found in God. And though God actually found us, and though we did not pay anything for our relationship with Him, nevertheless, we still count our relationship with God to be of greater value than everything else in the universe added up together. We would not trade our relationship with God for anything, or everything (Matt. 16:26). So in that sense, God has become to us that pearl of great price.

We see this same appreciation for knowing God reflected back to us in other Scriptures. When we read them, it is not as though they are urging us to overcome our opposition or indifference to learning more about God. Nor are they informing us that we should get to know Him better, as if we did not possess that desire already. But what we see in them is eloquently written reflections of our own deep desires to know God in greater and more personal ways. And the response of our redeemed spirits to reading them is always the same. We always say, “Amen, Lord! Make it so!”

Consider, for example, the following three exceptional prayers written by the apostle Paul. Read them, and gauge for yourself whether or not they reflect your deep desires to know Him better. Observe the reaction of your spirit, and confirm that your response is, “Amen, Lord! Make it so!”

 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe. (Eph. 1:15–19)
 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:14–19)
 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. (Col. 1:9–12)

Under the inspiration of God, the apostle Paul expressed in words the very things we want for ourselves, the very things we want for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and the very things God wants for us. Therefore, let us pray for one another and petition God that He would grant us these very things.

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